By Chris Bunton
Pablo Agrio has published a few times with The Yard: Crime Blog. We wanted to catch up with him and talk about the events in his life that has shaped who he is and what he writes.
Where were you stationed in the Marines or toured? What year did you go in?
“I served in the Corps from 1977 to 1984. I spent a year in Okinawa and trained in Korea. My last duty stationed was in Camp Pendleton, Oceanside. After my discharge I went into law enforcement. At the time, it seemed like a good option.”
Where were you a police officer at?
You are very open about your past. What are the circumstances of your crime?
“My crime was the result of an incident of domestic violence. I hesitate to talk about what happened because too many people suffered behind what I did, and perhaps are still suffering today. I don’t want to cause more harm. Sometimes even when I don’t mean to do that, I can come across as if I’m blaming the other party. I want to help others in similar situations avoid the mistakes I made. I have reached out to people who work with these situations but no one has accepted my offer to help. I have turned my life and my will over to God. I believe that when He is ready to use me an angel will appear.”
Where did you do time? What are the details of that?
“I did most of my time in Soledad. I was also in Donovan, Avenal and San Luis Obispo. “Octavia” is perhaps the only prison story I will ever tell. I felt like a character in Dante’s “Inferno.” I survived. That’s all that matters. Only God knows why I didn’t become the victim of a deadly assault. The only friends I have now are the ones I met while inside. They keep it real. They don’t play games.”
Did you have any moments of clarity? Something you came to the realization of or that changed you?
“I guess the moment of clarity came when I realized the system intended to keep me locked up until I died unless I could demonstrate I was truly reformed. I had to really dig deep and examine my thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs. And accept that I was sick and I needed help. With psychological and emotional issues, professionals can only help if you are willing to try. If your heart’s not in it, or if you are faking it you will crash and burn.”
Did you always want to be a writer?
“I always loved good stories. Never saw myself as a writer. My writing “career” began as a jailhouse lawyer. Writing Writs is very similar to writing good fiction. You know the old saying: “If the law is against you, argue facts. If the facts are against you, argue law.””
Does the events of your life impact your writing?
“Yes. My book “In Pursuit of Happiness” was the suggestion of my VA therapist. She thought it would help me get rid of troubling nightmares. The nightmares persist but in looking for a book editor I stumbled upon the UCLA Wordcommandos writing class and discovered I enjoy writing short stories. Now I’m dealing with another harsh reality: whenever you submit a story for publication there is a 99.9% chance it will get rejected. And you never really know if the story was rejected because it stunk or because it’s not the kind of story that publication likes. “Octavia” and “The Butcher” were rejected a number of times before The Yard gave them life. I’m so grateful. Getting a story published gives you motivation to keep writing, to keep improving.”
Do you experience hardships based upon your back ground? What kind?
“I live with shame and guilt, but not hardships. I work full time, I’m in good health, my social circle is protective of me, I’m a published author and because of my book I’ve reconnected with my son. God has been good to me.”
What writers do you feel most drawn to or influenced by? What do you typically read?
“When I was in the pen I read everything I could get my hands on. I have a passion for Russian writers. I’m currently reading “Duplicity” by Peter Selgin, “Cowboy Graves” by Roberto Bolano, “Bring Out The Dog” by Will Mackin and “American Short Story Masterpieces” edited by Raymond Carver and Tom Jenks.”
Do you have future plans for your writing?
“I write every chance I get. I’m also constantly revising my stories trying to make them better. My goal right now is to just keep improving with every story. I’m flirting with the idea of writing a Blog but I’m not tech savvy, don’t understand the medium and haven’t formulated a clear idea of what exactly I can speak about with authority. It feels safer to just keep working on short stories for the time being. If an opportunity presents itself I hope to be ready. I tried to set up and work with pabloagrio.wordpress.com but don’t know how to take advantage of that. Similarly, I was focused on completing and getting my book published but after friends and relatives bought it I’m dealing with the reality that without “marketing” and “promotion” the book will live in obscurity. Some well meaning individuals have offered to help but they want money up front, of course, and offer no guarantees.”
His Author’s page can be found Here.